tv American Artifacts CSPAN August 24, 2016 1:30pm-2:03pm EDT
sorts. you would have a toilet back here, which their toilet was a bucket and you would have one or two beds that were back here. up there in the front, this is our bow and this little barn right here was the barn. it was where our extra set of mules were held and therefore i said they would only work six hours. we would have two sets of mule, making four mules in total so we could go ahead and change them out so we could continue working throughout the day. on top of that, the barn was also where most of the family would sleep because there were also very big families here on the canal boats. so if there wasn't enough room back here in the family cabin where their beds were they would end up sleeping on the barn and all throughout the middle of our barge, this is where our cargo was kept. coal was our main cargo here on the canal. it was used to heat the homes
through the various ports that were in between cumberland and georgetown. used for cooking and goods like that. you would have goods coming from georgetown, as well. georgetown was the factory town back then so you did have mills that would produce your grains and meats and you would have timber that would come from there. any type of furniture, textile goods, clothing and all of that would be shipped up north to the various ports in between there. so this was a two-way traffic back then and there was only one tow path that we had that was used for our mules. so the question i'm sure you guys are all thinking of it, is how are two boats if they're going in opposite directions going to pass each other? all right. we will all pretend that there is a boat coming downstream right now at us. they're loaded up with coal and so if they're loaded up with coal that means they're about
120 tons and we're about 8 tons maybe. so that means they have the right of way because it's a whole lot harder to start and stop their boat than it would be our boat and so that would go ahead and tell our mule driver that we need to stop our boat. our tiller back there would use a saying and it's the tee yep ya. so that was our canal saying we use. and that means our mule stopped right on cue. and they pushed it to the further side of the tow path and with that we would push our boat to the further side and that would let the tow line sink to the bottom of the canal and once the boat has completely sunk, the downstream boat can cross over the tow line and what will happen now is we will turn our boat around. back then, like i said, you wouldn't be able to do this because the boats were longer than this and we are cutting it
close turning us around. and so, like i said, these were very family oriented boats. we would have the father would usually be on the front of the boat. he would be in charge of looking out for any dangers, making sure the tow line was safe or there was nothing that was in our way. on the back of the boat you would have the mother. the mother would be in charge of steering along with doing chores, mostly sewing. she could steer while sewing and men couldn't say women weren't good at driving because we were driving all of the time. the children at 9 years old we would get them right to work and we would get them walking with our mules and so at the age of 9 they'd go ahead and start working. i promise, it wasn't child labor. if they were younger than the
age of 9 we obviously had to do something with them, they couldn't work and they couldn't be running around the boat causing problems. so what we would do is we would take something that looked like this. this is an old mule harness and we would take this top section right here so we'd go ahead and take the rest of that off and use this top section right here. you can see there is a rope attached to it. you might see where this is going. if not, i have a picture. it's awesome and so this is a family in georgetown. the mom is off to the side doing her laundry and she didn't want her kids running around the port of georgetown so she went ahead and tied them up. so in the winter we would close for four months. it would usually start in early november. we'd go ahead and close down and it wouldn't open being bah up until maybe april is what we would do, and when we did close down it was a lot of time that we did our maintenance on the
canal because back then it had to be kept about six feet deep because your draft of the heaviest boat was about four. so you had to make sure you had enough room in the bottom of the canal and the bottom of your boat and we have little creeks that run into the canal and they bring in sediment that ends up causing sandbars or just making it hard for us to maintain that six feet. in the winter months when we close down there are no boats running and we would drain out certain sections of the canal and we would use a good old shovel and go ahead and dig out the dirt that was in there so we could keep it at the minimum of six feet deep. once we finally got the maintenance all done, we would go ahead and let water back in and how we would do that is we couldn't use the potomac, but it's a good water source so we would have locks called inlet
locks and it was a two-part system and the inlet locks connect right to the potomac river and there is a dam connected to those inlet locks. so we'd allow the water from the potomac to rush into the canal and we'd have a backup source of water just in case we had problems with the potomac river. and only the first 22 miles of the canal nowadays has water and then it gets very spotty throughout. so the kids doesn't sound like they had a very good life, but during the four months they were closed in the canal, they would go to school for these four months and our school system back then was very different. you had a series of books you had to go through. so no matter how old you were or what grade you were particularly in if you couldn't get past the first book you couldn't move on to the second one and what the first book consisted of were your abcs, how to count and also how to write and once you got to the second and third book it got more complicated and you would
learn how to put words together and how to add and subtract. they didn't need to know much as a canal kid, but they needed to know the basics, reading, writing and all of that. however, our lock keepers were on-call 24/7. they were constantly working, no matter the time of the day and they always had to be ready to work and how they would know that they needed to have the lock ready was usually on the boat we would have a horn as you guys heard when you were called on the boat and we'd blow that horn and our captain would yell hey, lock, so they would notify the lock keeper to be ready. >> a good thing about lock houses is they're all white. it makes them easier to see through the night so those people that were running 24 hours a day could go ahead and see them at night and would be able to blow their horn to notify the lock keepers that
they were coming in. the canal here has lots of history. we as the c&o canal company actually went bankrupt because as the potomac being our water source it also causes a lot of trouble and damage because whenever it floods unfortunately, we flood, as well and this was a very pricey job to be done here. it took a lot more money than we had expected to finish the completion of the canal which stopped in 1850 when it reached in cumberland. so we ended up going bankrupt and our competitors at the time, the baltimore and ohio railroads actually took over operations for us here in the canal, and so they kind of made sure that we didn't use it as frequently as we did in the 1870s because they wanted to be the main transport for any coal or cargo. so they went ahead and took over
operations for us and they did do. they did have to do a lot of reconstruction after flooding in the potomac so the last flood that we had when they were in control of us was in 1924 and they decided it was too much money to do the repairs that needed to be done after that flood so they went ahead and closed down the chesapeake and ohio canal for good. in 1924, back then there were only six boats running here on the canal so it wasn't really in use as much as it was. so it wasn't in as much use as it was because the railroads ended up getting the canal breaks so they became more efficient in transporting those goods. so in 1924 we didn't -- we weren't used as much so we went ahead and closed down the canal and then about 12 years later
the national park service actually went ahead and bought the chesapeake and ohio canal from the bno railroad for $2 million. they got a steal for $184.5 miles long and the acreage that they got. and then in the 1950s they decided with all of this land and all of it dug out already that it would actually make a really good pathway to actually create a highway on it known as the c&o parkway is what they wanted to call it. so they wanted to remove all of the historical properties that were here so that they could create that highway to connect cumberland to georgetown. obviously, it wasn't a good idea and it is still here today. and the reason why our canal is here is because there was one man that was very fond of the canal and he was a supreme court justice at the time, william o. douglas.
he loved the canal very much and was very saddened at the fact that the national park decided it would be a good idea to turn this into a parkway and what he did is he went ahead and challenged two washington post editors that wrote an editorial saying that it would be a good idea to change this into a parkway and went ahead and challenged him to hike the whole length of the canal the whole length is 184.5 miles long and after the very long hike they saw the beautiful things that were here on the canal and decided that maybe it's not too much of a good idea to turn this into a parkway. so obviously it's saved here today and william o. douglas was the foot step toward raising this park instead of sitting in traffic on a parkway going probably the same mileage we're going right now. so we're going to go ahead and do the same thing as when we entered the lock the first time. instead of raising the water
we'll lower the water and we did it the same way we did it when we came in the first time and we'll use the doors that are connected to our stems and turn those lock keys so that we can open those doors and let that water out. so we went ahead and opened up our gates and unfortunately what that means once our gates are open we have to get back to shore somehow and i along with
the back mule are the person that have to get you back to shore. so with that being said i have to get off the boat, unfortunately, but i hope you enjoyed your ride on the charles f. mercier, and if you have any questions please don't hesitate. on behalf of the national park service, thank you for joining us on the charles f. mercer and i hope you enjoyed your ride, okay? [ applause ] >> you did a fine job. >> thank you. you've been watching our weekly series, american artifacts on c-span3 american history tv. you can view this and all our
other programs online at c-span.org/history. >> 100 years ago, president woodrow wilson signed the bill creating the national park service, thursday, we look back on the past century of these caretakers of america's natural and historic treasures. beginning at 10:00 eastern, and throughout the day, we take you to national park service sites across the country as recorded by c-span. at 7:00 p.m. eastern, we're live from the national park services most visited historic home, arlington house, the robert e. lee memorial at arlington national cemetery. join us with your phone calls as we talk with robert stanton, former national park service director, and brandon buys, the former arlington house site manager who will oversee the
upcoming year long restoration of the mansion, slave quarters and grounds. thursday, the 100th anniversary of the national park service, live from arlington house at 7:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv on c-span3. next on american history tv's reel america, from 1935, the land of the giants, this 24-minute interior department film documents the efforts of the civilian conservation corps to develop california's national and state parks during the great depression. the film promotes the value of the ccc and shows the details of daily life for the men in the work camps. ♪ ♪
1890 to become part of yosemite national park. at the turn of the century she made a second effort buying 9,000 acres of redwood forest and creating california redwood state park. redwoods, the tall, tapering giants of the tree world are largely responsible for the fact that the golden state has a state park system, one of the finest in the existence. during the world war an extraordinary organization the save the redwoods league was brought into existence and they save as much as possible of the virgin redwood forest. along the northern coast of the state. out of the work of this league were the movement for a series of parks to contain liberal samples of the best of california's natural beauty. 3 to 1 californians voted in 1929 in favor of a bond issue of $6 million for parks. the bond act required that if that $6 million had been spent and for it, california has
obtained mountain and sea, forest and desert, canyon, stream and waterfall with the majestic world, carpeted with the giant fern from which tree trunks rise 300 feet to the sky are found in california's state parks, saved forever from the axe, to fill those who behold them with awe and reverence. california redwood state park consisting of 10,000 acres mostly redwood forest and the 2 1/2 hours distance from san francisco and santa cruz county was the first california state park to be established when the golden state set out determinedly to create a system of state-owned recreational areas second to none. it is a magnificent monument to
those stately giants of the forest world. the park is splendidly equipped to serve the requirements of the visiting public and in the summer season is constantly thronged with pleasure seekers. becoming of the civilian conservation corps, speeding up a program of continued development, which will take many years to complete. additional roads and trails are needed. it must be remembered that the park covers 16 square miles. the trail building isn't easy for there are timbered canyons to be encircled and traversed and real mountains to be climbed. >> bridges are being put in,
constructed entirely of bold, native material. timbers are easy to procure and timbers are easy to procure and therefore, inexpensive. the conservation core under the expert direction they are given are able to handle every detail of the work. a park as large as this one as well known and intensively used are in a park equipment in a rather big way. there are lots outdoor cooking and camp stoves and the yards with which they are built with much of the labor done with conservation enrollees are fabricating plants. the camp equipment are designed by drafts men and engineers attached to the camps. the chief aim in design is that of fitness in relation to forest environment.
>> along the south fork of the river and its tributaries and in the redwood highway are outstanding beauty spots of stream and valley landscape. though long established as a popular resort for visitors from humboldt county, humboldt state park has always needed just the kind of work that was made possible flew the inauguration of the ecw plan for the army of the civilian core workers. it was imperative that the beauty of the area as a whole be preserved by extending the boundary of original lands comprising the park.
>> clearing dense undergrowth for fire prevention and freer growth provides lumber for practically any kind of construction job which may be desirable. the conservation core boys make everything from heavy bridge timbers to park signs. many of the trails being built have exceptional scenic beauty. they wind for miles over fern-clad slopes to reach the mountaintops. around the core camp sites, the traffic setup by the new work projects using tractors, trucks and other heavy machinery make constant work necessary. increasing the telephone communication system is an invaluable conservation measure which the enrollees are contributing.
timber fires have nearly the chance they had some years ago. >> here are some of the most impressive and earliest known groups of big sequoias. the stanislaus river one of the many california mountain streams flows near the groves. in forests where necessary fitting provides the poles, the extension of telephone and telegraph systems is not difficult. miles of fire lanes are being cut. trenching and the improvement. >> the san jacinto mountains in riverside county have a southern representation of a condition characteristic of the sierras. here are more than 50 square miles of beautiful wilderness, virgin timber and rugged
mountains and one towering peak that rises well over two miles. the summit of the range has an impressive view of the surrounding county from hundreds of miles around and so weirdly and mysterious barren on this amazingly fertile california. in recent years there seems to be an awakening of wild life outdoors. thousands are along the country side and not merely riding around it in comfortable conveyances. packed trains in the national parks are more popular than ever before. san jacinto is one area where the beauties of nature will never unfold themselves completely when they see as scenic sightseeing as automobiles. here there will be miles, and
one conservation camp was established way up in the clouds and lumber had to be carried up on the backs of horses and burros. the traveler can enjoy a constantly changing panorama of fern-covered ledges and which nature alone can create. >> there's a lot of work to establishing the kind of camp in which more than 200 people can live for an undefinite period, winter and sumner comfort and with safety to their health. >> in this mountain county, the same rocks that have grading difficult have their virtue
wherever building strength is essential. >> building additional trails is a part of the enrollee's work in san jacinto. some trails look like shelves in the solid rock walls of awe-inspiring chasms. they are quarried right on the job. the first chow call of the day in most conservation core camp is at the early hour of 6:00 in the morning. no one is late for breakfast. his appetite won't let him. looks like ham and eggs. lunch is sometimes served in the field where the boys frequently work many miles from camp and the camp administrators insist the workers have hot food three times a day and dinner is served at 4:30 in the afternoon. every man, his own dish washer.
rubikon point is on the shores of lake tahoe and one of the highest and largest of the seattle lakes and the lake itself because bodies of water this size are rarely found at such high altitudes are in the pacific coast section. here is an expanse of 193 square miles of cold, crystal clear water and perched over a quarter high in the mountains. many of the motion picture celebrities from southern california have cottages along its shores and with the easy motoring distance of sacramento, and san francisco, it attracts many visitors. camp sites, particularly around rubikon point proper with its sandy beach are popular. the conservation core boys are doing much of their work in the forests cutting new trails and establishing additional camp sites.
sometimes they find it necessary and a period of usefulness and are interfering with the development of the park as a whole. one of those not infrequent examples of eroded rock is a point of interest. it is called the balanced rock. not enough is known of the civilian conservation or conservation of civilians part of this unique nationwide recovery plan. more than a million young men and war veterans have been participants and few of them have failed to absorb benefits of even greater value to them and the mere employment and money they have been given. these boys here are being taught many things about tree and plant life, insect pest control and so on which they can apply in later life.
>> prairie creek and humboldt county is a magnificent redwood park. rocky ocean shores with here and there sections of sandy beach add materially to the charm of the region. think of the peace of a camp like this where trees lift themselves 300 feet from the springy turf with the incense of redwood, pine and fir. at patrick's point forests give way to meadows and meadows to turn to the sea. one stretch the beach is being cleaned from debris to prime ocean bathing. undergrowth is deep and work is being carefully done to preserve it. one of the interesting activities of the boys here is the making of redwood signs to
mark trails and places of interest. unusual talents among widely varied lines are being uncovered among the enrollees. from roads along the tumultuous big sur river there are vistas of rapids, waterfalls, stately forests and lofty mountain peaks. just before it plunges into the pacific, the big sur traverses a beautiful valley about 250 feet above sea level. 600 acres including this valley are compromised in this outstanding state park area variously named from the big sir river and fiver's woods and fiver's point which is in the same vicinity. mountain streams are unusually swift and powerful. when they start from the ocean destination with the elevation much greater with the atlantic seaboard.
they move with speed and determination. the distances they traverse are relatively short. their drop is much more precipitated and they're really a part of one great waterfall from the peaks of the sierras to the expansive and powerful pacific. the park is in monterey county about 30 miles south of carmel with its western boundary about 6 miles from the junction of the big sur and the pacific ocean. it is on a fine state highway and easily accessible to travelers en route between los angeles and san francisco. the two largest cities in the state. the scenic features are unusually diversifiediversified they are each about 3,500 feet high. sycamore and big sur are mountain canyons well worthy of the name. the juan iguera creek falls are of exceptional beauty and there are inspiring groves of redwoods. generally speaking building
construction work is confined to structures incident of the program being carried out. barracks and administration buildings are usually built for them before they arrive in camp. this garage with their tractors, trucks and so on is for conservation core construction. much of the trail and road work being done requires nothing more than the good old pick and shovel and in some instances the most modern of motorized equipment is being used. there are seasons of the year when the big sur becomes quite unruly and an important part of the work is on the riverbed easing the flow water at flood tide. with 200 active young americans on hand good baseball is an almost inevitable result. miles of babbling brooks, just the sort of place people from the coast like so well.